Thursday, June 11, 2009

As auto sector reels, Quebec homes in on electric cars

The auto industry is struggling across North America, but focusing on the electric car market could be a boon for Quebec, the province's natural resource minister says.

Claude Béchard says he can foresee a day when the province might become involved in every aspect of producing electric cars — from production to powering.

"We're thinking about it, and I believe nothing is impossible," he told reporters Tuesday. "I think we're in the right place at the right time."

Unlike hybrid-electric vehicles that depend on gasoline power to charge the battery, pure electric cars have a range of about 50 kilometres without any need for alternative power.

A new partnership, unveiled Tuesday between the province's power utility and Ford Canada, is a clear step toward making them a reality.

Under the three-year pact, Hydro-Québec workers will help test new Ford Escape rechargeable vehicles that can be plugged into conventional electrical outlets.

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